Q: I'll be attending a corporate holiday party with a "black and white semi-formal attire or LA cocktail attire" dress code. Can I get some suggestions? I don't want to look like a broken groom who was just left at the alter. Thanks. —Gerard
A: For all but the most exclusive occasions, party dress rules are like speed limits: No one expects you to follow the absolute letter of the law. Or in your case, even the spirit. To wit, we ran the phrase "LA cocktail attire" through Google Translate and, here, apparently is the rough approximation: "If you look like Bradley Cooper or Johnny Depp, wear whatever the fuck you want. If you like Harvey Weinstein, consider a tie and jacket. But still wear whatever the fuck you want."
But we don't recommend dollar bill or feather prints. Instead we suggest, from bottom to top:
FOOTWEAR: If you think you can pull off a pair of sandals, then do that, and make certain you schedule a pedi for the day of. Buff. A less-bold play that still requires no lacing or socks are these Prada loafers in two-tone color and fabric.
With the Cardinals 3-0 win over the Cubs on April 2nd, white pants season officially started. For us they're already on a rotation heavier than a starting pitcher, and with a life expectancy about as long as a doubleheader, we're always looking to stock the bullpen.
Three strikes and we're out?
Yes. But let us first present the MB Deal of the Week: Brooklyn Tailors White Denim Pants. Originally $205, marked down to $69, and now just $34.50 (+ free shipping) these pants are made in BkT's Kathmandu, Nepal factory, where they're usually busy making suits and dress shirts. So we expect a more tailored construction, and paired with the countervailing force of denim, a switch-hitting pant we can wear to both the office and a matinee.
Q: It's almost time to pack the corduroys away depending on where you live (sorry New England). So, what would you say are some essentials for spring? —Jack
A: Just 10 days ago, on the most frigid commute of the entire season, the thought of spring essentials seemed as distant as our final destination. But Jimmy the Carnivorous Groundhog was right, and Insta-Spring — it was 68 yesterday in Minneapolis — now has us consuming the following:
The Last Word
There is no cocktail that personifies and embodies spring more than The Last Word. Equal parts gin, Luxardo maraschino liqueur, Green Chartreuse, and fresh lime juice, one sip of this emerald Prohibition-era tipple immediately conjures thoughts of tournament basketball, The Masters, green grass, and swallows returning to Capistrano. It also serves as an excellent alternative to green beer, the toolbag drink of choice tomorrow.
Spring means baseball, and Opening Day is the opening day of the newly-expanded white pant season (more on this later). The Cardinals play at Wrigley in just 20 days. The best place to find something cool, unique, and cheap is YOOX, as usual, and free shipping is now standard. Otherwise Levi Strauss & Co. makes white denim in the 501, 511, 514, and 569.
Todd Snyder Japanese Indigo Crew Sweatshirt
Our favorite purchase of 2015 by a wide margin. Is $275 a lot for a cotton sweatshirt, even if it's made by Canadian factory workers using Japanese indigo? Yes. But while this garment is marked 100 percent cotton, we actually suspect it might be 120 percent cotton, or maybe even 125 percent. It's that soft. Paradoxically, it's also incredibly sturdy. In fact, we're betting its tank-like construction will yield a life expectancy of at least a decade. Amortize its cost over that term and it's actually cheaper than a $15 Old Navy sweatshirt that you will be downgrading to "paint rag" by Independence Day.
Nylite Chambray in Aurora Red
During the chambray boom that happened a few years ago, when folks were making pants, suits, and even a few trendy hotels out of chambray, we did not buy in heavily. Indeed, we think chambray is a little like heroin or Jim Carrey — something to savor in small doses. But when it's used right it can be very effective. Here, for example, a splash of chambray gives these Tretorn Nylites — originally invented in 1964 and typically made out of a canvas — thinking about April matinees at Target Field. So make ours a double!
(And be on the lookout for our spring tie line, which will also be using chambray in sparing fashion.)
Vintage Onion Content
Insta-Spring has us recalling one of our favorite Onion pieces, this one from 1996: Area Students Prepare Breasts for Increased Springtime Display. "Female college students from across the northern U.S. celebrated the improved weather this week, preparing their breasts for the increased exposure and display that the warm weather now demands."
Q: Amid the brouhaha about this year's US Olympic uniforms, I'm surprised no one's brought up the obvious complaint: they're hideous! Horrible berets, round collars, ugly ties, and jackets with distractingly enormous manufacturer logos... even the white trousers under stadium lighting will give us a good sense of who wears what underwear. Am I right about this, or just completely out of touch? —Vince
A: You are right (for the most part). The insane politicians who wanted to burn the Ralph Lauren uniforms because they were made in China should have instead wanted to burn the blazer because it's a too-short DB with peak lapels and brass buttons.
The beret is an odd choice. Maybe Lauren thought the games were in Paris instead of London.
Early last year we wondered if Bubba Watson was a toolbag with MB tendencies or vice versa.
Now we're pretty sure it's the latter.
This season Watson combined a pink head with his pink-shafted Ping G20 driver to support Breast Cancer Awareness (Ping donates $300 for every 300 yard drive Watson hits), and at the Masters he just won he wore the same white-on-white outfit for four days to raise money for Fresh Start, a California charity that provides cosmetic reconstructive surgery for children with physical defects.
Now Watson clothing sponsor Travis Mathew is selling a $200 white polo and belt package with 100% of the proceeds going to Fresh Start. If they sell out, an additional $50,000 will be donated to the California-based cancer research center City of Hope.
While both the polo and belt badly violate the MB principle of legible clothing, we're in, and the Pulaski Goodwill soon be receiving a NWT Travis Mathew polo shirt and belt.
Q: When should I mothball the tweed for the year? Is it the same in the spring as fall - last freeze as predicted by the Farmer's Almanac? Or just before Easter?
A: While the Farmer's Almanac's frost guide is perfect for the introduction of tweed, it's of no use for its retirement. The average last frost in Green Bay, Wisconsin is May 6, which is way, way too late to be wearing tweed. By then we're in white pants, drinking clear liquor.
Just before Easter might work if it had a set date like Christmas, but the range for this holiday 34 days, which is fine for Jesus's resurrection but unhelpful as a style guidepost.
Rather than rely on Mother Nature or Christian holidays for tweed mothbolling, we've been lead instead by the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which extended the start of daylight savings time (DST) three weeks, to the second Sunday in March starting in 2007. For the past six years we've found the start of DST to be a very reliable and natural-feeling tweed end date.
A: We've found that Mother Nature offers sound guidance on when to break out the tweed: first frost. According to the Old Farmer's Almanac, on average this happens in Green Bay on October 4. This feels just right for us, as it's also the time we move exclusively to brown liquor. For most of the rest of the country we think the Almanac's first frost table will function as a fairly accurate tweed-wearing guide too.
If you live in a climate where frost is rare, you can start wearing tweed as soon as it's gloomy at least three days in a row.
If you live in climate where it never even gets gloomy, you either own no tweed or your love for the fabric is so irrational you will have no use for practical advice like ours.
Labor Day has passed, which means you have to put your white pants on furlough for about nine months or so. But only if you have a time machine and plan to visit 1935 for the rest of the year. In 2011, the dictum against wearing white pants between Labor Day and Memorial Day makes about as much sense as making a special trip to the mall to pay $17.98 for an album that only includes three songs you're actually planning to listen to. Some people still do it, sure, but why?
A more sensible approach: Wear white whenever it is weather-appropriate, which is to say, whenever, it's warm enough to have sex outside. For years we've said white pants are okay through the end of the MLB regular season, assuming you live where we do, at about 44° N (northern Wisconsin). We'd like to add an important corollary to the White Pants Doctrine and extend the wearing period five days for each latitudinal degree you are south of Pulaski, until you reach 30° N, where you can safely wear white pants year-round.
See the table below.
Last Day for White Pants 2011
St. Louis, MO
As for the pants themselves, our all-time favorite white jean is the AG Protege (now 33% off at Nordstrom if you're a 33 or 32). For trousers, Costume National Homme makes great whites that can easily be dressed up or down, and they are all on deep discount this time of year.
Read just received a new shipment of nice-looking shirts (we've already ordered the Jake Madras), and at a $98 retail you're getting the style consulting for 52 bucks. If we didn't already strongly resemble the "After" shot — yes, we raided our own wardrobe for the shoot — we'd seriously consider this deal.
In spite of there still being snow on the ground here, white jeans season in nearly upon us, and we strongly endorse getting into a pair (or two). The guiding purchasing principle? Let the white denim do the talking (as it's already talking pretty loudly). In other words, no funky cuts, no colored rivets, no contrast stitching, no distressing. Or as Suprametist artist Kazimir Malevich would say: "Just white jeans." Here are a few of our favorites this season.
These jeans, along with a fine pair of stems, graced the MB masthead when this site launched nearly four years ago. They're great white jeans. Unfortunately this season's inseam measures only 32.5", so they will signal a flood in our office, but may work for you.
Q: Hey guys: Love the website, and a couple of times it's stopped me from making a fashion mistake - I appreciate it. Anyway, I saw these on Gear Patrol and wondered what you thought. They're not crocs or thongs, and I thought the blue ones would look good with some white jeans. I will defer to your expertise though. --David
A: Obey and Generic Surplus are both brands we like, but this plimsoll-boat shoe fusion (top) has us imagining comical sunburn patterns we'd just as soon avoid. We say: Women alone should bear the risk of skin-exposing mesh (bottom).
If you want a navy boat shoe, there is always Sperry, of course, but we also like the Oak Street Bootmakers version, made from Horween Chromexcel and handcrafted and handstitched in the USA.
Q: What is the rule with wearing white after Labor Day? I have heard a bunch of different rules and wanted to get the official MB stance on this. I live in the south and we can have warm weather all the way though October so I didnt know if I had to go ahead and hang up all my white attire (linen pants, dress shorts, loafers, etc) till memorial day or not? Thanks. --Zack
Q: The Memorial-Day-to-Labor-Day thing is an antiquated sartorial rule, like a hat requirement when when standing in an unemployment line. Even up here in Wisconsin we've adopted a May-Day-to-end-of-MLB-regular-season rule. If you live in the south, extend that to the end of the World Series. But please think twice about those linen pants.
Q: My husband and I are visiting NYC this summer and have reservations at an upscale restaurant that requires jackets for men. What jackets/blazers do you recommend that can be worn with non-jeans without looking like a total toolbag? --Melissa
If you do decide to venture out, we hear what you're saying about matching blazers with non-denim. While nearly 100% of blazers go with blue jeans, the success rate with trousers is no better than 10%. Unless they're white. White pants are nearly denim's blazer-matching equivalent, so rather than go shopping for a new blazer, find him a great pair of white pants (and they're all on sale now).
Q: I am going to a polo event on June 12th. I have not been to one. What to wear? Obviously weather plays a part in this, so let's assume it is 90 + degrees and sunny. I would love the detail for the outfit and sunglasses (total to spend $2500.00) and I have a great watch. I am more concerned with pant, shirt, jacket, and shoes. Thanks! --JJ
A: This may be your first polo match, but that doesn't mean everyone has to know. Follow the lead of Prince Harry, who has been there before, many times over, and go casual. Based on your budget, here's some specific pieces that will make you look like carefree royalty. (Caveat: Harry gets everything right from the neck down. His Maui Jim-style sunglasses should be left to the toolbag rabble.)
Q: Dear MB: WTF? I bet James Bond never biked to work. Why don't you get back to doing what you do best, for example by telling me whether an MB can or should wear a blue seersucker jacket, and if so, with what pants. --Julian
A: We've seen all the movies -- in somecases dozens of times -- and don't recall any scenes where 007 is rolling along at 5 MPH for 30 minutes behind some toolbag in an Escalade with a "Freedom Isn't Free" bumper sticker. There's nothing magnificent about enduring traffic jams twice a day, which is why we endorse bike commuting in many situations.
Regarding the seersucker, if your blazer is cut more like J. Crew instead of J. Press, it would look great with denim, especially white. 'Tis the season.
2.) Sneakers that you plan to wear with shorts are one item where we give more leeway than we usually do to bright colors, patterns, and logos. Don't go crazy though. If Turtle from Entourage would wear it, you've probably gone too far.
3.) Sticking with white or gray is your best bet for picking a shoe that can work with a wide variety of shorts. (Important note: If you're a size 12 or over, do not go with an all-white shoe unless you're trying to pick up work as a clown at children's birthday parties.)
4.) If you're dying to incorporate red velour into your wardrobe, a pair of sneakers is the only place to do it.
The T56s offer timeless style. Our great-great-great-great-great-grandkids will be wearing these in 2210. In 2010, they're the shoes we reach for when we know the evening's going to involve some furious table tennis action.
"Leave your socks at home," the Superga website enthuses, because the interior of the 2750 feature finished inseams. We like that touch but we're not going to go that far. For all summer sneaker-wearing we recommend the Banana Republic no-show socks.
Williot is a Spanish brand that made its debut in the U.S. market last summer. If you want to look sporty but not athletic -- i.e., you aren't planning to do anything more strenuous than mixing cocktails by the pool -- these are a great choice.
Why are we recommending these Chuck clones and not the real thing? Thanks to the hidden Air Nike technology hidden in the heel, they're one of the few Chuck-style shoes that you can play basketball in and not sentence your feet to a lifetime of Bill Walton-like pain. When your day involves anything more strenuous than a J. Crew photo shoot, wear these.
Designer Seishi Tanaka hand-draws the sketches for the TST line and it shows. This model leans toward the more athletic end of the athleisure shoe spectrum -- we think we could actually play some touch football in it -- but it has an organic quality not found in the hyper-engineered footwear of, say, Nike or Reebok.
If you want to add a Gallic touch to your Fourth of July barbecue, try these sneakers from Jean Paul Gaultier's shoe line, Pataugas. (You can pick up last year's slightly different model at yoox.com for only $89.)
Q: I have to go to an all white event (Bar Mitzvah). I have a white linen shirt and white linen pants. Can I wear both or do I need another top. And if the answer is yes, do I need a blazer or sweater? --Kevin
A: Kevin, it would seem you haven't seen our bit on linen. It's trouble, and can turn a fella into a total mess within seconds. We've seen it happen. But when life gives you lemons, we say make lemonade (or at least some really outstanding lemon twists). Second, nobody wears white-on-white, except hospital orderlies and Mr. Clean (inset). So the objective is to break up the white with a shade of white, either in a different shirt, a sweater, or blazer. Take a look at this picture from the DKNY collection at Bloomingdale's, then ask the host if you can go as a bed.
2 shots cognac (or high-quality brandy)
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon lemon juice
hot water to taste
Put this all in a warmed glass and stir until the honey dissolves. Garnish with a twist of lemon.